Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NYT Thursday 4/15/10 - I, Punner

I have to admit to being a little puzzled by this Thursday New York Times crossword. Seeing the byline, I was expecting something devilish on "crazy Thursday", but all I can see is five puns. Nice puns, mind you, but knowing the reputation of the constructors, I wonder if I'm missing something? I've only just noticed the connection between the ends of the punned words, so I'm probably not firing on all cylinders at the mo.

Things got off to a slow start: although I suspected punning very early on, I didn't put together a complete answer (taiga woods) until six minutes had gone by. Getting the next one (Wicca basket) took a further five minutes. All this time I was wondering what the point of it all was.

My general solving route was counterclockwise from the top left, filling in the center before finally getting to the NE corner which had always looked troublesome. One reason for problems was my forgetting there is a five-letter spelling of myna, which held up recognition of 23-Across, the route into the final corner.

35-Across caused a different kind of trouble ... I couldn't see what the pun was. Only when googling for ideas after the puzzle was complete did I realize era and error are supposed to sound similar ... most British speakers render them very differently, though I acknowledge things are different with an American accent.

I ducked dealing with one trouble spot till the end: Richard Jeni (45-Across) unfortunately crossed with Amana (33-Down). I hadn't heard of the former, of course, so just had to go on very vague memories of the latter from a puzzle last October.
Solving time: 23 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1d sat {Collected dust}

Brendan Emmett Quigley and Joon Pahk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Five puns based on words ending with a schwa sound.
17a taiga woods {Areas in northern forests?} cf Tiger Woods
23a mynah league {Chatty bird alliance?} cf minor league
35a experimental era {Time when laboratories came into vogue?} cf experimental error
47a Wicca basket {Witch's hamper?} cf wicker basket
56a Wayne manna {Heavenly food for the Duke?} cf Wayne Manor
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBrendan Emmett Quigley & Joon Pahk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.16)
Theme squares57 (29.8%)
Scrabble points322 (average 1.69)
Video of the Day

13d Halsey {Title admiral in a Paul and Linda McCartney hit}. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey is a song by Paul and Linda McCartney from the album Ram. The song is probably the most ambitious and experimental track on Ram, and is less a song and more a collection of melodic fragments pieced together, in a similar way to the song-cycle on the second half of The Beatles' Abbey Road.

The song is noted for its sound effects, including the sound of thunder, lightning, and rain, heard between the first and second verse, the sound of a telephone dialing, and a message machine, heard after the second verse, and a sound of chirping sea birds and wind by the seashore. Linda's voice is heard in the harmonies as well as the bridge section of the "Admiral Halsey" portion of the song.

McCartney said "Uncle Albert" was based on his uncle. "He's someone I recall fondly, and when the song was coming it was like a nostalgia thing." McCartney also said, "As for Admiral Halsey, he's one of yours, an American admiral", referring to Admiral William "Bull" Halsey.

The Doctor is IN

45a Jeni {Late stand-up comic Richard}. Richard John Colangelo (1957–2007) went by the stage name of Richard Jeni.

46a amiga {Foreign pen pal, perhaps}. amiga is the feminine equivalent of amigo.

51a NHL {Lightning org.}. Lightning = Tampa Bay Lightning ice hockey team is a new one for Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

55a Otis {R&B singer Shuggie ___}. Shuggie OtisJohnny Alexander Veliotes.

5d Dewey {Three-term governor of New York}. Thomas E. Dewey (1902–1971) was also a Republican candidate for President, losing at both attempts.

21d Jetta {Beetle's cousin?}. The Jetta and Beetle are cars made by Volkswagen.

33d Amana {Big name on the range?}. Amana is an appliance brand now owned by Whirlpool.

Image of the Day

Nike swoosh

42d swoosh {Sneaker symbol}. The Nike swoosh is a design created in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University. She met Phil Knight while he was teaching accounting classes and she started doing some freelance work for his company, Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). The Nike Swoosh logo represents the wing in the famous statue of the Greek Goddess of victory, Nike, who was the source of inspiration for many great and courageous warriors.

BRS needed a new brand for a new line of athletic footwear it was preparing to introduce in 1972. Knight approached Davidson for design ideas, and she agreed to provide them, charging a rate of US$2 per hour. In June 1971, Davidson presented a number of design options to Knight and other BRS executives, and they ultimately selected the mark now known globally as the Swoosh. "I don't love it," Knight told her, "but I think it will grow on me." Davidson submitted a bill for US$35 for her work. (In 1983, Knight gave Davidson a diamond Swoosh ring and an envelope filled with Nike stock to express his gratitude.)

Other Clues

1a stud {Ladies' man}; 5a dazed {Mentally out of it}; 10a soph. {H.S. class member}; 14a Arno {The Ponte Santa Trinita spans it}; 15a Econo- {Prefix with car}; 16a aria {"Lullaby," for one}; 19a mill {Grinding location}; 20a nosier {Digging further, say}; 21a Jones {Amos of "Amos 'n' Andy"}; 22a MSN {ISP with a butterfly logo}; 27a afros {Big bushes}; 29a rest {Doctor's recommendation, often}; 30a spy {"Mission: Impossible" figure}; 31a Kiev {Capital on the Dnieper}; 32a satiate {Stuff}; 40a Radames {"Celeste Aida" singer}; 41a emir {Commander, in Arabic}; 42a sts. {Some G.P.S. lines}; 52a Oprah {Co-producer of the film "Precious"}; 53a avocet {Wading bird with an upcurved bill}; 60a SoBe {Beverage with a lizard logo}; 61a align {Even up}; 62a icon {Jackie O, e.g.}; 63a heed {Follow}; 64a ran at {Rushed}; 65a newt {Lizardlike creature}.

1d sat {Collected dust}; 2d transfix {Fascinate}; 3d union rep {One who labors for labor's sake?}; 4d dogs {Feet, slangily}; 6d acorn {Nut with a cupule}; 7d zoo {Place for exhibits}; 8d end {Defensive ___}; 9d dos {27-Across, e.g.}; 10d Samoa {Margaret Mead's "Coming of Age in ___"}; 11d O-rings {Some gaskets}; 12d pile-up {Accumulate}; 18d aims {Targets}; 22d make {Fashion}; 24d Artemis {Temple of ___, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World}; 25d Heine {Poet whose works were set to music by Schumann, Strauss and Brahms}; 26d LSATs {Some college srs. take them}; 28d over {[Turn the page]}; 32d side B {Song that people flip for?}; 34d elem. {___ sch.}; 36d rajah {Howdah occupant, maybe}; 37d eminence {Prestige}; 38d right now! {"No, I meant tomorrow ... duh!"}; 39d Aral {Kazakh/Uzbek ___ Sea}; 43d tiptoe {Sneak, in a way}; 44d scribe {Writer}; 46d atom {Unit proposed by Leucippus}; 48d cased {Scoped out}; 49d Kanga {"Winnie-the-Pooh" character}; 50d event {Calendar entry}; 54d Cain {Crop farmer of Genesis}; 56d WAR {Classic one-word headline}; 57d à la {Like}; 58d yin {The dark side}; 59d ant {Soldier ___}.


Anonymous said...

I don't think 56a is a pun on Wayne Manor. I think it is a pun on "wine" as in wine (and) manna. cf maynah league.

Crossword Man said...

It didn't imagine there'd be an alternative theory on 56a ... thanks for commenting!

aaronb said...

I'd go with the Wayne Manor theory. This was the fourth and hardest of the puzzles in the Boston Crossword tournament (and the only one in which I made an error - avocat for avocet). I believe it was written for the tournament and that all the puns involve a sterotypical Massachusetts pronunciation of "r", as in 'pahk your cah in havahd yahd.'

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Aaron. I thought there was something more to the puzzle, so it's good to have that explained. In the old days, when the London Times used puzzles that had been in their comps, they would point that out underneath ... and give the time of the fastest solver (interesting, if a little disheartening!).

Anonymous said...

Wayne manna {Heavenly food for the Duke?} cf Wayne Manor

The late great actor, John Wayne, was known as "Duke"

Crossword Man said...

Hi Micky. Fascinating to find a third theory on this one!